Air Defense: Mobile Centurion


p> June 5, 2008:  There is now a land mobile version of the Phalanx anti-ship-missile system.  The "Mobile Centurion" was originally developed four years ago, as "C-RAM". It is basically the Phalanx naval gun system with new software  that enables it to take data from other radar systems, and shoot down just about any kind of artillery shell or rocket within range. Renamed Centurion, it uses high explosive 20mm shells, that detonate near the target, spraying it with fragments. By the time these fragments reach the ground, they are generally too small to injure anyone. At least that's been the experience in Iraq. The original Phalanx used 20mm depleted uranium shells, to slice through incoming missiles. Phalanx fires shells at the rate of 75 per second. Another advantage of Centurion, is that it makes a distinctive noise when firing, warning people nearby that a mortar or rocket attack is underway, giving people an opportunity to duck inside if they are out and about.


The first C-RAM was sent to Iraq in late 2006, to protect the Green Zone (the large area in Baghdad turned into an American base). It was found that C-RAM could knock down 70-80 percent of the rockets and mortar shells fired within range of its cannon. In the last two years, Centurion systems in Iraq have intercepted over a hundred rockets or mortar shells aimed at the Green Zone. Not bad, since it only took about a year to develop C-RAM. A Mobile Centurion system, which can cover an area about four kilometers wide, costs $15 million. The manufacturer will be turning out four a month.



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